Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tea in Marrakech [Sterns/Earthworks, 2001]
These 15 songs are Muslim like Philip Roth is Jewish-irreverently, idiosyncratically, and to the marrow. Their North African provenance means their sense of Islam is at least unorthodox and often cosmopolitan/European-and so, of course, does their pop provenance. East-West instrument mixing is standard, mystical intensity a hook. Women hold their own. Some of these professional entertainers are seekers after the catchy tune, others folkloric types who sound authentic to us and impure to adepts, and as many come from Paris or Barcelona as from Cairo or Marrakech. You wouldn't think to listen that they're all championing a cultural tendency under attack. But Islamists hate them as much as they hate us, if not more. A